Birmingham taxi drivers continue ‘go-slow’ Clean Air Zone protests

Taxi drivers in Birmingham will continue their ‘go slow’ protests today (May 8) against the upcoming Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the city, which they say will ‘decimate’ their trade.

In a statement released by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union yesterday (May 7), they blamed the city council for a breakdown in talks which they hoped would see the council soften their stance.

Birmingham’s Class D charging Clean Air Zone was approved by ministers last month and it will see taxi drivers with high polluting vehicles charged £8 per day to drive within the zone’s limits.

The statement reads: ‘For the last two weeks, RMT members who are taxi drivers in Birmingham have been engaged in protest action in an attempt to persuade the City Council to re-open talks on how the financial impact of the council’s policies could be mitigated so that the taxi drivers would not be plunged into greater financial hardship’

‘On 2nd May 2019 the RMT Midlands Regional Council President received a communication from Councillor Barbara Dring indicating she would be prepared to meet with the taxi drivers for further discussions at 9am on Tuesday 7th May 2019 – this was on the basis the taxi drivers suspended their protests which they duly did.

‘However , just 24 hours later RMT’s Regional President ‘Raja Amin received a further email from Emma Rohomon – the acting head of licensing at Birmingham City Council advising that no changes could be made to anything and that no one from the council would be attending any meetings – effectively wrecking today’s talks before they even started.’

In a statement released to Air Quality News, a Birmingham City Council spokesperson said they are investing heavily in subsidies and grants to help taxi drivers move towards low-emission vehicles.

‘We have earmarked 39% (£15m) of the £38m funding we have successfully bid for from the government specifically for Hackney carriage and private hire drivers. This is more than for any other sector.

‘We have consulted with the taxi and private hire trade and have also met with trade representatives on numerous occasions to discuss their concerns. Their feedback has helped shape the licensing policies we have prepared in readiness for the Clean Air Zone.

‘We are unable to offer any further concessions as this would put us in breach of the terms under which the government awarded the funding and would leave us unable to deliver the required air quality improvements. This would result in us having to repay the money and leave drivers without the financial support we have worked so hard to secure for them.’

Protests are planned on the following days:

Tuesday 7th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Wednesday 8th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Thursday 9th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Friday 10th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Monday 13th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Tuesday 14th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Wednesday 15th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Thursday 16th May 2019 – 15.00 – 18.00
Friday 17th May 2019 – 15.00 -18.00

Photo credit – Pixabay